Why Women Inherit Depression More Often than Men

Gender Plays a Role in Depression

More women have depression throughout the world, than men
More women have depression throughout the world, than men | Source

Women and Depression

Men and women are different in many ways. Of course there is the physical differences that we readily see, but there are also psychological differences.

Gender plays a major role in specific psychological disorders. For example, women are two times as likely to suffer from major depression as men. Men are more than two times as likely to become alcohol dependent. Antisocial personality disorder is three times as common in men, as it is in women. Men are four times as likely to die by suicide. Women attempt sucide almost three times as often as men do. Women are three times as likely to have an anorexia or bulimia as men. Women are 75% more likely to have a binge eating disorder than men. There seems to be no difference in gender when it comes to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Autism is 4 times as prevelant in boys than girls, although girls who have autism, tend to have more impairment and severe symptoms than boys. The ratio of 2 to1 is the same across all boundaries of race, ethnicity,and socioeconomic status.11 other countries in the world have reported the same ratios.

Depression is the main cause of disability in women worldwide. 1 out of 8 women will have a major depressive episode at some time their lifetime.

Heredity May Play a Role With Depression in Women

In one research study done on twins, by Professor Kenneth S. Kendler at the Medical Schoo in the University of Virginia, it was found that women were more likely to inherit depression than men were. They analyzed depression in 42,161 pairs of twins. 15, 493 pairs of the twins were identical. This research uncovered hereditary factors may play a role in depression. There may be a gene for depression that affects women more than men. It was found that 42% of women are suffering from depression, due to this inherited gene. 29% of men who suffer from depression, appear to have this same gene. Women are also more prone to depression due to hormonal changes. This led the researchers to pinpoint specific times when women are more prone to depression, post partum (after giving birth), and pre menstrually. Men’s moods are less affected.by hormones.


Researchers have identified several areas of alleles. Each of us inherits 2 alleles for each gene. One allele comes from the mother, the other from the father. Science has made an association between severe depression and someof these alleles. Some of these associations occur only in women and in one of the areas that is related to the regulation of female hormones.


Sometimes events can trigger a depression. But as science learns more about the biological connection to depression, it can be seen that other factors may play a role in mood disorders. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate our mood. Researchers now believe that some genes may deprive the brain of enough of this hormone. This gene was found to be 10 times more common in depressed people than in people who did not suffere from depression. It was also found that patients who had this mutated gene did not respond well to anti depressants that commonly work with serotonin. This gene makes some people more vulnerable to depression than others. It is estimated that depression may be 40-70% inherited.

There also, have been studies done on the effects mothers' depression has on children.

Why Do Women Suffer More from Depression than Men


It is not totally understood why there are gender differences in psychogical disorders. Some scientists believe the reason may be hereditary. In one research study done on twins, by Professor Kenneth S. Kendler at the Medical Schoo in the University of Virginia, it was found that women were more likely to inherit depression than men were. They analyzed depression in 42,161 pairs of twins. 15, 493 pairs of the twins were identical. This research uncovered hereditary factors may play a role in depression. There is gene, it appears, for depression that affects women more than men. It was found that 42% of women are suffering from depression, due to this inherited gene. 29% of men who suffer from depression, appear to have this same gene. Women are also more prone to depression due to hormonal changes. This led the researchers to pinpoint specific times when women are more prone to depression, post partum (after giving birth), and pre menstrually. Men’s moods are less affedted.by hormones.


Researchers have identified several areas of alleles. Each of us inherits 2 alleles for each gene. One allele comes from the mother, the other from the father. Science has made an association between severe depression and someof these alleles. Some of these associations occur only in women and in one of the areas that is related to the regulation of female hormones.

Sometimes events can trigger a depression. But as science learns more about the biological connection to depression, it can be seen that other factors may play a role in mood disorders. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate our mood. Researchers now believe that some genes may deprive the brain of enough of this hormone. This gene was found to be 10 times more common in depressed people than in people who did not suffere from depression. It was also found that patients who had this mutated gene did not respond well to anti depressants that commonly work with serotonin. This gene makes some people more vulnerable to depression than others. It is estimated that depression may be 40-70% inherited.

Once Puberty Sets In, Females Have More Depression than Males

There are about 15 million people who suffer from depression in a given year. The majority of sufferers are women. Nearly ⅔ of people who have depression do not get the help they need. Women develop clinical depression twice as often as men. Nearly 1 out of 4 women will havean episode of major depression at some point at some point in their lifetime.

Depression is mood disorder that affects nearly all aspects of a person’s life. They feel sad, hopeless, worthless, and helpless. Depression affects people on a range from mild, moderate to severe.

Girls and boys prior to adolescence have the same rate of depression. Once puberty sets in, a girl has a higher risk of developing depression at the rate twice that of boys. Hormone levels are most likely related to hormone levels that fluctuate due to puberty, pregnancy, giving birth, menopause, and through out a women’s fluctuating hormones from her menstrual cycle.

Depression and Women

Females out number males with depression, once puberty occurs
Females out number males with depression, once puberty occurs | Source

Factors that Put Women More at Risk for Depression

The (National Institutes of Health) NIH listed factors that put a women more at risk of depression `

  • hormonal
  • biological
  • reproductive
  • genetic
  • interpersonal
  • personality
  • psychological predisposition
  • family history
  • loss of a parent prior to the age of 10
  • little social support network
  • loss of job
  • loss of mate through death or divorce
  • physical or sexual abuse as a child
  • certain medications
  • post partum
  • seasonal affective disorder in the winter
  • PMDD - premenstrual dysphoric disorder (affects about About 3% to 5% of menstruating women)


Women May Have More Stress Factors than Men

Although depression can occur at any age, the typical age of onset is between 25 and 44 years old. Depression does run in families. When it is inherited, the age of onset starts between 15 and 30 years old. Inheritable depression is much more common in women.

Hormonal changes can make a woman more prone to depression , but hormonal changes by themselves will not cause depression. there most be other facttors, such as biolgical, genetic traits, and life events that will trigger or contribute to the depression.

More women live in poverty than men. Women tendto haemore limited earning power than men. Women have less access to health care and community services. These factors affect a woman’s status and may make them feel uncertain about their future and more powerless about the control they have over their own lives. All thesethingscontribute to the risk of depression in women.

Women are often trying to balance home and work. They may have a couple of jobs. Middle aged woman may find themselves as the sandwich generation,trying to be the caregiver for their children and their aging parents. Stress factors like these can make a woman more prone to depression.

Signs of Depression

Typical Signs of Depression:

  • Feeling sad guilty or hopeless
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • changes in your sleeping patterns
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Unexplained physical symptoms without an apparent cause
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Thoughts of suicide and feeling extreme negativity about your future

Differences in Depression Between Men and Women

Men
Women
self medicate with alcohol and drugs
Use food, friends, and "love" to self-medicate
commit more suicide
commit suicide less often than men
more successful on their first attempt at suicide
rWomen attempt suicide more often than men, but are less successful
deny their feelings more
more likely to be associated with stress
may develop behavioral problems
depression occurs earlier, lasts longer, is more likely to reoccur
Blame others
Blame themselves
Feel angry, irritable, and ego inflated
Feel sad, apathetic, and worthless
Feel suspicious and guarded
Feel anxious and scared
Create conflicts
Avoid conflicts at all costs
Feel restless and agitated
Feel slowed down and nervous
Need to feel in control at all costs
Have trouble setting boundaries
Find it “weak” to admit self-doubt or despair
Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair
 
more affected by seasonal affected disorde
 
women deal with greater fluctuating hormones
 
suffer from more anxiety and eating disorders than men

What Women Believe About Depression

Women get diagnosed with depression more often than men, possibly because women may be more aware of their own symptoms. Men are more reluctant to accept that they have a problem and may resort to self medicating through alcohol and drugs.



30% to 50% of the time,women with depression, are misdiagnosed
Less than half of women with clinical depression will get help, even though clinical depression is very responsive to treatment. More than 80% can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

In a survey done by the National Mental Health Association, called “American Attitudes about Clinical Depression and its Treatment,” done March 1996:.

  • The majority of women, more than ½, believe it’s normal for a woman to feel depressed during menopause. They believe no treatment isn’t needed.

  • More than ½ of women think depression is a nomal part of aging.

  • More than ½ believe post partum depression for at least 2 weeks after giving birth is normal

  • 41% of women said embrrassment or shame about depression would stop them from seeking treatment.

  • More than ½ of women believe they know more about depression than men do.


It Pays to Get Help, You Will Only Feel Better

Women are 3 times as much as men to become depressed due to stressful events. Women out number men in their exposure to severe stress, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence. Women are usually the primary caretakers, and tend to defer their own needs more than men. The stress of too many obligations in too little time and being overly responsible, lower income and less control over many matters in their lives makes a woman more prone to depression than a man. The mix of stress hormones, female hormones, serotonin and norepinephrine may also make women more vulnerable to depression. Women are also more sensitive to their emotions than men.

If you are seeking the help of a mental health professional, make sure they are licensed in your state. Mae sure they have experience in dealing with depression. Find out what method of therapy they use, and how it will be effective for you. Find out the costs, and is there a sliding fee so they will work with you. Do they have knowledge about medication, if you need it, so they can guide your doctor, or a doctor they are affliated with. Discuss before you start treatment with them, how they will go about helping you.

Be confident in the knowledge that talk therapy and/or medication is extremely effective in helping people with depression. It pays to get the proper help. You will only feel better.
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Comments 4 comments

Perry the Cat profile image

Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

Good article. Depression is a real problem.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, Here is another great hub on a important subject like depression in woman. All this great information will help any woman who suffers from depression. I enjoyed reading and learning more from your well written hub !

Vote up and more !!!

Have a great week my friend !


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

An excellent hub on depression and as a person, unfortunately, who has suffered from this, I can vouch for the signs and symptoms you have in the hub. What I found really interesting as well though was the table showing the different ways that men and women feel and try to cope with depression. It's not something I had really thought about before, but I found it very intriguing.

All in all an excellent hub, very interesting indeed + voted up!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 4 years ago Author

Hi Perry, Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Depression is a problem, but the more awareness that is created, the more hopefully, those who suffer will seek treatment.

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